Executive Summary

















Key Findings


Based on current statistics there are in excess of 300 million Web users and on-line world trade is expected top 250 billion by the year 2002. By 2001, over 60,000 European companies are expecting to conduct commerce over the Internet and by 2005, it is estimated that around half of all credit card transactions will take place over the Internet. Following this phenomenal growth rate, there is a corresponding difficulty in finding specific web sites when the searcher lacks the direct address.


This report looks at how professionals and consumers search the web and what they think of the creation of the new .pro domain name.


        61% of respondents go straight to their favourite search engine to search for an organisation.


        92% of respondents would feel comfortable using a new system to search for a professional service.


        Only 2% of respondents could find the correct information they searched for.


        56% of respondents had to complete numerous search attempts to find a specific person or organisation.


        96% of respondents believe a system that pre-filtered websites would be of use.


         Law firms are the most popular choice (80%) of organisation that should be represented by the .pro domain name.




This analysis is based on 50 telephone interviews: 24% with consumers and 76% with professionals. The majority of respondents are from the following four sectors; accountants, engineers, financial planners and insurance agents. The respondents operate in a wide range of industries from accountancy to medicine and are mainly proprietors.


Searching the Web


When looking for a specific person, service provider or other entity on the Internet for the first time, respondents are most likely to go straight to their favourite search engine (61%).


Despite the likelihood of respondents to go to their favourite search engine, 14% often give up because they are overwhelmed with results that run on for pages and seem to have nothing to do with their search and over 50% have to refine the search again and again before finding what they want. This indicates that despite dissatisfaction, search engines are still the most convenient method of searching the web.


Site designers use meta-tags to tell search engines what is in their site and there is nothing to stop them putting unrelated words in the code to attract the engines. It is partly for this reason that searchers are swamped with seemingly unrelated pages.


96% of respondents would find it of some use to have a system in place that pre-filters web sites and listings so that only certified sites are returned as results of their search.


This indicates a positive environment for the launch of a new search engine based on site authentication.


Results indicate that consumers are less likely to continue searching for an individual or organisation, if they cannot be found on their favourite search engine. Whereas, professionals are likely to then try to search the internet using keywords and search commands in their web browser.


Domain Names


In addition to suffixes such as .com and .org new suffixes may soon be available. It may be possible to locate licensed professional services using a web address such as .pro, the professional categories that respondents would expect to find under .pro are as follows










Financial Planners or Brokers


Health Organisations and Hospitals


Insurance Agents


Law Firms








According to respondents, the most appropriate way to authenticate that the individual or organisation listed as .pro is licensed to practice their profession is if it is an established professional association (62%).


63% of respondents would be at least very comfortable using a new system to search for a professional service if organisations and individuals could be listed as licensed professionals in their field.


The only difference between business-to-business and consumer respondents is that the entire consumer group claim that they would be comfortable utilising this new search system.


This research shows that a new method of searching for professional services would be welcome. At present, only 2% of respondents could find the exact information they were searching for straight away with their current search engines. Almost all (96%) users would feel comfortable with this new search method. The name of the suffix however, would apparently cause some amusement, particularly among older respondents.